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In Dallas, the University of New Mexico men’s golf team apparently made good use of its learning experience at its last event.
By coming in with the lowest second round among the field of 12, the 16th-ranked Lobos (according to the latest Golfweek.com/Sagarin poll) were 14 under par through the first 36 holes and sit in third place going into Tuesday’s final round of the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate.
UNM shot a two-round total of 696 (354-342) Monday and trails leader and fifth-ranked Oklahoma State (340-349=689, 21 under) by seven stokes at the par-71 Royal Oaks Country Club. Each team has six players with the top five counting toward the team score.
Lobos junior Victor Perez and true freshman Andrej Bevins are tied for third at 6-under 136 after the first rounds. Bevins and junior Sam Saunders, both playing the course for the first time, shot 5-under 66 and 4-under 67, respectively in round two.
“Those were awesome rounds that Andre and Sam put together,” UNM coach Glen Millican said. “Andre played like he did at the Tucker (UNM’s home tournament in September in which Bevins tied Gavin Green for the individual title). And Sam did some good things at a course that’s new to him.”
The Lobos finished 12th at last week’s Isleworth Collegiate Invitational in Windermere, Fla., their lowest finish in a tournament in three years. They were fifth after the first 18 holes at 1-under Monday but got their short game going in the second round.
“That was the big difference,” Millican said. “They played similar rounds, but they started to get some putts to fall in the second round. This course was a little different than last week, where you had to place the ball at certain positions on the green. On this course, if you play the par-3s and par-5s well, you have a chance to score.”
Perez shot a 4-under 67 in the first round to keep the Lobos in striking distance, 14 shots behind the Cowboys. Perez, Bevins (70-66) and Stanford’s Cameron Wilson (69-67) all are five strokes behind leader Kevin Dougherty of Oklahoma State, who shot an 11-under 131 (63-68).
SMU’s Austin Smotherman is second at 7-under 135 (67-68).
Saunders (73-67) and junior Gavin Green (71-69) are tied for 15th at 2-under 140. Junior Sean Romero (74-71) is tied for 49th at 3-over 145, and sophomore Joe Abella (73-73) is tied for 55th at 4-over 146.
No. 11 Stanford is second at 15-under 695 (349-346). No. 19 Baylor (345-353) is fourth at 12-under 698, followed by No. 38 SMU (348-351=699) at 11 under.
“This is definitely a good spot for us to be,” Millican said. “If you can get yourself in position after two rounds – within 10 strokes of the lead – you give yourself a chance to win, which is always what we try to do.
The Lobos are set to tee off at 8:30 a.m. Mountain Time on Tuesday in the final grouping with Oklahoma State and Stanford.